Saturday, March 14, 2009

Tips for Deep-Frying

Cooking basics...

Tips for Deep-Frying

* The oil must reach a good temperature to brown the exterior of the food quickly while cooking it. That temperature is almost always between 350F and 375F degrees. To be sure the oil is right use a frying thermometer.

* Use canola oil for frying. It is low in saturated fat, has a high burning point, and does not detract from the flavor of the food you are frying.

* Avoid crowding food that is deep-fat-fried. The food must be surrounded by bubbling oil, and you must keep the temperature from falling too much. If you add too much food to a small
amount of oil, the temperature will plummet, and the food will wind up greasy and soggy.

* Never fill the pot more than halfway with oil; this will prevent bubbling over when the food is added.
* Dry food well with paper towels before adding to the pot; it helps reduce splattering.
Cooking basics....

Tips for Low Fat Cooking

Cooking basics...

Tips for Low Fat Cooking

* Get into the habit of measuring the oil you use while you cook, rather than just pouring it out of the bottle. It will be much easier to moderate the amount you use.

* Use non-stick cookware so that you don't have to use as much, if any, fat. When sauteing, use a small amount of chicken broth or wine instead of butter or oil.

* To make fat-free broth, chill your meat or chicken broth. The fat will rise to the top, and you can remove it before using the broth.

* Many vegetables and fruits, including potatoes and apples, retain many of their nutrients in their skin. So when possible, leave the skin on your fruits and vegetables and cook them whole.

* Romaine lettuce is loaded with vitamins compared to iceberg. It has three times as much Vitamin C and six times as much Vitamin A.

* Vitamin C is destroyed quickly in cooking - so cook your vegetables with Vitamin C in the smallest amount of water possible and for a short amount of time.

* Stock up on spices. One of the keys to cooking low-fat and not getting bored is to spice your food well. When you have finished your recipe, always taste it and adjust the spices to meet your taste.

* Purchase the best (i.e. heaviest) set of non-stick cookware you can afford.

* When cooking a dish with both vegetables and meat (i.e. in stir frys and stews), reduce the amount of meat by 1/3 and increase the amount of vegetables by 1/3. You will hardly notice!

* Thicken gravies with milk or broth blended in the blender with flour. Be sure to cook long enough to remove the raw flour taste. You'll never notice the lack of fat.

* Use olive oil for cooking when appropriate. It adds to the taste of the dish and is better for you.

Problems with Breads:
PROBLEM: What is the best way to bake brown and serve rolls?

First, brush their tops with melted butter or margarine. Bake at the recommended temperature (on their package), but be careful of dark coated baking sheets. Dark coated baking sheets may cause the bottoms to burn before they are done. Bake brown and serve rolls at a high temperature to insure a crispy, flavorful crust.

PROBLEM: Breads that are always too hard and heavy.

Breads made from scratch or from a mix must have an internal temperature of about 80 degrees for the yeast to work properly. Cold dough will not expand properly. Make sure the bread rises in a warm draft free environment.

PROBLEM: Bread that rises too fast in the pan.

Use cool or cold water in the mix. The place you let the bread rise in bulk should be about 80 degrees. Place the dough in the refrigerator for a few minutes to cool down (while the dough is still in bulk form).

PROBLEM: French bread that has a pale crust.

Spray or paint the loaves with water (before cutting). Use an egg wash to make the crust really brown up. French bread must have a high temperature to bake properly. Check your oven to make sure the temperature is correct. Add a little sugar to the mix.

PROBLEM: Tough pizza crust.

Most of the time a pizza crust dough should be wet and sticky (use a little extra water). Toss in plenty of spices. Oil your pan with olive oil. Try baking the crust first, then add any topping and bake only to melt the cheese. Try dipping your fingers in olive oil when you flatten the crust in the pan. Use plenty of olive oil and the crust will be flavorful and crispy.

PROBLEM: Bread loaves and rolls that are heavy and soggy in the middle.

When everything else has been done right, maybe the unit weight is too heavy. Try making the pieces smaller and let them rise longer.

PROBLEM: Bread loaves that cave in on their sides when removed from
the pan.

Always remove bread from the pan as soon as taken from the oven. The crust sweats and may fall. Make sure that you use Bread Flour in the mix. Weak flour will cause loaves to fall. Make sure the loaves are done. Thump the top and if the loaf sounds hollow, it is done.
Setting (just baked) loaves in a cool draft of air will sometimes cause their sides to cave in. When the dough is allowed to rise too much before baking the loaves will sometimes collapse.

PROBLEM: Soft crusty breads.

The secret to good crusty breads is to use very little (if any) fats, egg yolks, milks or sugar in the mix. Always serve crusty breads as soon as they are baked for the best flavor and appearance. Use only Bread Flour and make sure the dough is on the stiff side rather than soft and sticky. However, some crusty breads are very sticky (excess water). These breads are made by using an extra warm dough and baking quickly at a high temperature.
Cooking basics....tips-for-deep-frying.

Tips for using Skewers

Cooking Basics...

Tips for using Skewers

Soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes before using them so they won't burn during cooking.
If you prefer metal skewers, which have a long life, use square or twisted types, which will hold the food better than round ones.
To keep food from slipping off during cooking and turning, use two parallel skewers rather than a single skewer.
If you're using a wooden skewer, as you thread the food move the pieces close together, with no space showing.
If the skewer is metal, you can leave small spaces between the pieces.
When using foods with different cooking times (such as shrimp and beef), don't combine them on the same skewer. Instead, make skewers of just shrimp or just beef, start cooking the beef first, and then combine them on a serving platter.
Cooking basics...tips-for-low-fat-cooking.

Monday, January 26, 2009

How To Fillet a Fish

Cooking basics...

How To Fillet a Fish

Here's How:

1. Hold the fish on the cutting board with the back of the fish toward you. Using a thin flexible knife, cut through the back of the head to the backbone and turn the blade so it's running along the backbone.
2. Hold the fish by placing your non cutting hand over the head. Push the knife along the backbone to the tail using a sawing motion.
3. Pull the fillet away from the body of the fish while making small careful cuts with the knife to retain as much flesh as possible.
4. Using small strokes of the knife, remove the fillet from the rib cage, feeling your way around the bones with the knife.
5. Turn the fish over and repeat steps 1 through 3 on the other side.
6. Using a flat bladed knife, slice a bit of the skin away from the flesh. Cut a hole in the loosened skin so you can fit your finger through it.
7. Hold the skin through the finger hole and pull the skin away from the fillet, using the knife to hold the fillet down. Hold the knife at a 45 degree angle.
8. With your fingers and a clean tweezer, feel for any pin bones and pull them out of the fillets.


1. Make sure your knives are very sharp or you will rip and tear the flesh.
2. Go slowly at first. It takes practice to become an expert at filleting a fish.
3. Removing the fillet from the rib cage is the most difficult step. Be very careful and go slowly.

What You Need:

* whole fish
* sharp thin bladed knife
* sharp flat bladed knife
* cutting board
* tweezers
Cooking basics....

Friday, January 23, 2009


Cooking basics...

is a method of food preservation that works by removing water from the food, which prevents the growth of microorganisms and decay. Drying food using the sun and wind to prevent spoilage has been known since ancient times. Water is usually removed by evaporation (air drying, sun drying, smoking or wind drying) but, in the case of freeze-drying, food is first frozen and then water is removed by sublimation.

Bacteria and micro-organisms within the food and from the air need the water in the food to grow. Drying effectively prevents them from surviving in the food. It also creates a hard outer-layer, helping to stop micro-organisms from entering the food.

Food types

Many different foods are prepared by dehydration. Good examples are meat such as prosciutto (a.k.a. Parma ham), bresaola, and beef jerky. Fruits change character completely when dried: the plum becomes a prune, the grape a raisin; figs and dates are also transformed. Drying is rarely used for vegetables as it removes the vitamins within them, however bulbs, such as garlic and onion, are often dried. Also chilis are frequently dried.

For centuries, much of the European diet depended on dried cod, known as salt cod or bacalhau (with salt) or stockfish (without). It formed the main protein source for the slaves on the West Indian plantations and was a major economic force within the triangular trade.

Dried and salted reindeer meat is a traditional Sami food. First the meat is soaked / pickled in saltwater for a couple of days to guarantee the conservation of the meat. Then the meat is dried in the sun in spring when the air temperature is below zero. The dried meat can be further processed to make soup.
Dried shark known as Hákarl is a delicacy in Iceland.

Cooking Methods

There are many different methods for drying, each with their own advantages for particular applications; these include:

* Bed dryers
* Fluidized bed dryers
* Shelf dryers
* Spray drying
* Sunlight
* Commercial food dehydrators
* Household oven
Cooking basics....hot-salt-frying

English cuisine

Cooking basics....

English cuisine
is shaped by the country's temperate climate, its island geography and its history. The latter includes interactions with other European countries, and the importing of ingredients and ideas from places such as North America, China and India during the time of the British Empire and as a result of post-war immigration.

As a result, traditional foods have ancient origins, such as bread and cheese, roasted and stewed meats, meat and game pies, and freshwater and saltwater fish. Other customary dishes, such as fish and chips, which are eaten by tradition in newspaper with salt and malt vinegar, and bangers and mash, which are sausages with mashed potatoes, onions and gravy, are now matched in popularity by spices and curries from India and Bangladesh, and stir-fries based on Chinese and Thai cooking. French cuisine and Italian cuisine, once considered alien, are also now admired and copied. Britain was also quick to adopt the innovation of fast food from the United States, and continues to absorb culinary ideas from all over the world.

These trends are exemplified by dishes such as spaghetti bolognese which has been a common family meal in Britain since at least the 1960s. More recently there has been a huge growth in the popularity of dishes influenced by the Indian Sub-Continent (a throwback to the times of British influence in the region), though modified to suit British tastes. The British curry, essentially a holdover from the days of the British Raj (and subsequently embellished by
immigrants), may be hotter and spicier than the traditional North Indian variety.

The Sunday roast is perhaps the most common feature of English cooking. The Sunday dinner traditionally includes roast potatoes accompanying a roasted joint of meat such as roast beef, lamb, or a roast chicken and assorted vegetables, themselves generally roasted or boiled and served with a gravy. Yorkshire pudding and gravy is now often served as an accompaniment to the main course, although it was originally served first as a "filler". The practice of serving a roast dinner on a Sunday is related to the elaborate preparation required, and to the housewife's practice of performing the weekly wash on a Monday, when the cold remains of the roast made an easily-assembled meal. An elaborate version of roast dinner is eaten at Christmas, with almost every detail rigidly specified by tradition. Since its widespread availability after World War II the most popular Christmas roast is turkey, superseding the goose of Dickens's time[1]. Game meats such as venison which were traditionally the domain of higher classes are occasionally also eaten by those wishing to experiment with a wider choice of foods, due to their promotion by celebrity chefs, such as Antony Worrall Thompson, although it is not usually eaten regularly in the average household.

Fish and chips.

England is famous for its fish and chips and has a huge number of restaurants and take-away shops that cater to it. It is possibly the most popular and identifiable English dish, and is traditionally served with a side order of mushy peas with salt and vinegar as condiments. Foods such as scampi, a deep fried breaded prawn dish, are also on offered as well as fishcakes or a number of other combinations. The advent of take-away foods during the industrial revolution led to foods such as fish and chips, mushy peas, and steak and kidney pie with mashed potato (pie and mash). These were the staples of the UK take-away business, and indeed of English diets however, like many national dishes, quality can vary drastically from the commercial or mass produced product to an authentic or homemade variety using more discerning ingredients. However, through ethnic influences, particularly those of Indian and Chinese, have given rise to the establishment and availability of ethnic take-away foods.[2] From the 1980s onwards, a new variant on curry, the balti, began to become popular in the West Midlands, and by the mid 1990s was commonplace in Indian restaurants and restaurants over the country. Kebab houses, pizza restaurants and American-style fried chicken restaurants aiming at late night snacking have also become popular in urban areas.

The full English breakfast (also known as "cooked breakfast" or "fried breakfast") also remains a culinary classic. Its contents vary, but it normally consists of a combination of :
  • bacon,
  • grilled tomatoes,
  • fried bread,
  • black pudding,
  • baked beans,
  • fried mushrooms,
  • sausages,
  • eggs (fried, scrambled or boiled) and other variations on these ingredients and others.

Hash browns are sometimes added, though this is not considered traditional. In general, the domestic breakfast is less elaborate, and most "full English" breakfasts are bought in cafés since having being replaced by cereals. A young child's breakfast might include "soldiers", finger-shaped pieces of bread to be dipped in the yolk of a lightly boiled egg.

English sausages are distinctive in that they are usually made from fresh meats and rarely smoked, dried, or strongly flavoured. Following the post World War II period, sausages tended to contain low-quality meat, fat, and rusk. However, there has been a backlash in recent years, with most butchers and supermarkets now selling premium varieties. Pork and beef are by far the most common bases, although gourmet varieties may contain venison, wild boar, etc. There are particularly famous regional varieties, such as the herbal Lincolnshire, and the long, curled Cumberland with many butchers offering their own individual recipes and variations often handed down through generations, but are generally not made from cured meats such as Italian selections or available in such a variety as found in Germany. Most larger supermarkets in England will stock at least a dozen types of English sausage: not only Cumberland and Lincolnshire but often varieties such as :
  • Pork and Apple;
  • Pork and Herb;
  • Beef and Stilton;
  • Pork and Mozarella;
  • Sundried Tomatoes and so forth.

There are estimated to be around 400 sausage varieties in the United Kingdom Sausages form the basis of cooking dishes such as toad in the hole where they are combined with a batter similar to a yorkshire pudding and baked in the oven, this can be served with an onion gravy made by frying sliced onions for anywhere over an hour on a low heat then mixed with a stock, wine or ale then reduced to form a sauce or gravy used in bangers and mash. A variant of the sausage is the black pudding, strongly associated with Lancashire similar to the French boudin noir or the Spanish Morcilla. It is made from pig's blood, in line with the adage that "you can eat every part of a pig except its squeal". Pig's trotters, tripe and brawn are also traditional fare in the North.

Pies, originally a way to preserve food, have long been a mainstay of English cooking. Meat pies are generally enclosed with fillings such as chicken and mushroom or steak and kidney (originally steak and oyster). Pork pies are almost always eaten cold, with the Melton Mowbray pork pie being the archetype. Open pies or flans are generally served for dessert with fillings of seasonal fruit. Quiches and savoury flans are eaten, but not considered indigenous. The Cornish pasty is a much-loved regional dish, constructed from pastry is folded into a semi-circular purse, like a calzone. Another kind of pie is topped with mashed potato—for instance, shepherd's pie, with lamb, cottage pie, with beef, or fisherman's pie. As usual, there is a vast difference in quality between mass produced and hand-made versions. Good quality pies are obtainable from some pubs, traditional pie and mash shops, or specialist bakeries.

England can claim to have given the world the word "sandwich", although the eponymous Earl was not the first to add a filling to bread. Fillings such as pickled relishes and Gentleman's Relish could also be considered distinctively British.

Northern European countries generally have a tradition of salting, smoking, pickling and otherwise preserving foods. Britons make kippers, ham, bacon and a wide variety of pickled vegetables. Scottish smoked fish—salmon and Arbroath smokies—are particularly prized. Smoked cheese is uncommon. Meats other than pork are generally not cured. The "three breakfasts a day" principle can be implemented by eating bacon sandwiches, often referred to as "bacon sarnies" or "bacon butties", at any time of the day or night. Pickles and preserves are given a twist by the influence of the British Empire. Thus, the repertoire includes chutney as well as Branston or "brown" pickle, piccalilli, pickled onions and gherkins. The Asian influence is also present in condiments such as tomato sauce (originally ketjap), Worcestershire sauce and "brown" sauce (such as HP). Because Britain is a beer-drinking nation, malt vinegar is commonly used. English mustard, associated with Colman's of Norwich, is strongly-flavoured and bright yellow.

Pickles often accompany a selection of sliced, cold cooked meats, or "cold collation". This dish can claim to have some international influence, since it is known in French as an "assiette Anglaise".

It is believed by some that the English "drop everything" for a teatime meal in the mid-afternoon. This is no longer the case in the workplace, and is rarer in the home. A formal teatime meal is now often an accompaniment to tourism, particularly in Devon and neighbouring counties, where comestibles may include scones with jam and butter or clotted cream. There are also butterfly cakes, simple small sponge cakes which can be iced or eaten plain. Nationwide, assorted biscuits and sandwiches are eaten. Generally, however, the teatime meal has been replaced by snacking, or simply ignored.

Tea itself, usually served with milk, is consumed throughout the day and is sometimes drunk with meals. In recent years herbal teas and speciality teas have also become popular. Coffee is perhaps a little less common than in continental Europe, but is still drunk by many in both its instant and percolated forms, often with milk (but rarely with cream). Italian coffee preparations such as espresso and cappuccino and modern American variants such as the frappuccino are increasingly popular, but generally purchased in restaurants or from specialist coffee shops rather than made in the home. Sugar is often added to individual cups of tea or coffee, though never to the pot.

For much of the 20th century Britain had a system whereby milk was delivered to the doorstep in reusable glass bottles in the mornings, usually by special vehicles called "milk floats". This service continues in some areas, though it has increasingly been replaced by supermarket shopping. Many Britons consider their milk superior to the heat-treated variety found in some other countries.

Cheese is generally hard, and made from cows' milk. Cheddar cheese, originally made in the town of Cheddar, is by far the most common type, with many variations. Tangy Cheshire, salty Caerphilly, Sage Derby, Red Leicester, creamy Double Gloucester and sweet Wensleydale are some traditional regional varieties. Cheddar and the rich, blue-veined Stilton have both been called the king of English cheeses. Cornish Yarg is a successful modern variety. The name 'Cheddar cheese' has become widely used internationally, and does not currently have a protected designation of origin (PDO). However, the European Union recognises West Country Farmhouse Cheddar as a PDO. To meet this standard the cheese must be made in the traditional manner using local ingredients in one of the four designated counties of South West England: Somerset, Devon, Dorset, or Cornwall. Sheep and goat cheeses are made chiefly by craft producers. Continental cheeses such as French Brie are sometimes also manufactured.

Wine can be served with meals, though for semi-formal and informal meals beer, lager or cider may also be drunk. Kedgeree, a popular breakfast dish in the Victorian era.

In the Victorian era, during the British Raj, Britain first started borrowing Indian dishes, creating Anglo-Indian cuisine, some of which is still eaten today although many once-popular Anglo-Indian dishes such as kedgeree have largely faded from the scene[citation needed].

Sweets consist of many original home-made desserts such as rhubarb crumble, bread and butter pudding, trifle and spotted dick. The traditional accompaniment is custard, sometimes known as crème anglaise (English sauce or English cream made with eggs and milk) to the French however in Victorian times Alfred Bird, a Birmingham Chemist, operating from premises in New Street found that his wife much enjoyed custard but was allergic to eggs and so he invented a substitute made from cornflour and vanilla . The dishes are simple and traditional, with recipes passed on from generation to generation. There is also a dried fruit based Christmas pudding, and the almond flavoured Bakewell tart.

Another formal British culinary tradition rarely observed today is the consumption of a savoury course, such as Welsh rabbit, toward the conclusion of a meal. This now though may be eaten as a snack or a light lunch or supper. Most main meals today end with a sweet dessert, although cheese and biscuits may be consumed as an alternative or as an addition. In Yorkshire, fruit cake is often served with Wensleydale cheese. Coffee can sometimes be a culminatory drink.
Cooking basics....

Mediterranean cuisine

Cooking Basics....

Mediterranean cuisine
is the food of the areas around the Mediterranean Sea.

Given the geography, these nation-states have influenced each other over time and the cooking evolved into sharing common principles. Mediterranean cuisine is characterized by its flexibility, its range of ingredients and its many regional variations. The terrain has tended to favour the raising of goats and sheep.

Mediterranian Cuisine in Dalmatia, Croatia.

Fish dishes are also common, although today much of the fish is imported since the fisheries of the Mediterranean Sea are weak.[citation needed] Seafood is still prominent in many of the
standard recipes.

Olive oil, produced from the olive trees prominent throughout Portugal, Greece, Croatia, Turkey, Italy, Spain and other Mediterranean nations, adds to the distinctive taste of the food.

Garlic is also used throughout Mediterranean cuisine. It is widely believed that ingredients in this kind of cooking, especially olive oil, are particularly healthy; see Mediterranean diet.

Barbecue or grilled meats, pita bread, hummus, and falafel are very popular forms of the eastern type of the cuisine. (Cooking basics)